Woman impaled by venomous stingray while wading at beach was 'certain I was going to die'
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Woman impaled by venomous stingray while wading at beach was 'certain I was going to die'

Aug 17, 2023

Kristie O'Brien had been wading through the shallow waters at Bahia Beach, near Tampa, when she was skewered by the little sea creature. The wound was four inches dead and missed her lung by centimetres

A woman was left "certain" she was going to die, after getting stung by a stingray while on a leisurely trip to the beach.

Kristie O'Brien was wading through knee deep water at Bahia Beach near Tampa, Florida, when she was impaled by being stabbed in the back by the Southern stingray. The venomous spine went four inches deep and missed her lung by centimetres.

She told FOX 13: "I was trying to stay as calm as I could. But I was certain that I was going to die because, I mean, like everyone has like this picture of Steve Irwin when he literally was punctured in his chest."

The famous conservationist and television personality Irwin, known as The Crocodile Hunter, died after being stung in the heart by a stingray barb while filming in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

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Ms O'Brien was stuck in hospital for days after her run in with a stingray. Describing the moment she was stung, she said: "As soon as I hit the water, I felt like I had been stung by something." She said it was her husband who first saw the stingray hanging off of her. She knew enough to not pull the stingray barb out herself, which is the advice in case parts of it break off inside the wound.

Instead paramedics cut the stingray tail off and the spine was removed after she got to the hospital. She had to stay for multiple days due to treatment for the possible poisoning.

"It's still incredibly sore there," she said of her wound. "It's like spurts of pain. And they say that's just because of the toxin that's actually in the barb of the stingray itself."

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: "Non-aggressive species that scavenge the surf zone for food. Because southern stingrays share this zone with humans, occasionally, a human might step on them and possibly get injured by a sharp, serrated spine attached at the base of the tail. This venomous spine is used for defence only and can be regrown if removed. Avoid handling stingrays and use caution while wading in shallow water (do the “stingray shuffle”).

Rather than being a hip new dance, the 'stingray shuffle' is when walking in water, you shuffle your feet along the bottom so the usually docile stingrays will feel the vibrations and have a chance to flee.

Ms O'Brien added that she hasn't been put off by the incident and she's already planning to get back into the water. She said: "I'll go back in the water again, probably not in the bay. I probably won't be swimming in the bay. But I mean, stingrays are out there, and we're in their environment."

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